Play the designs set out by one of golf’s greatest pioneers and players
Renowed around the world as the ‘Grandfather of Golf’, Old Tom Morris was one of the most successful golfers in the early era of the Open Championship, winning the tournament on four occasions.
A St Andrews-native, Morris Snr also had interests outside of playing the game, including greenkeeping and golf course design. An innovator for the former, Morris introduced a number of new concepts, including top-dressing greens with sand to aid turf growth.
It’s course design where his legacy is most prominent, though, as he laid out some of the best-known courses across the British Isles, from Open Championship designs to ‘hidden gems’ that you can still enjoy to this day.
Forfar Golf Club’s Cunninghill course was the first golf course in the world to be originally set out with an 18-hole configuration (three golf courses were created before Forfar but each of those had their layouts adapted to 18 holes when it became standardised). Initially designed by Old Tom Morris in 1871, and later redesigned by James Braid, it is both a beautifully presented and carefully maintained course that sits against a backdrop of the Angus Glens. Staying true to its natural heathland setting, it presents unique challenges to golfers of all standards looking for a memorable day of golf in Scotland.
Situated just nine miles from St Andrews on the Fife coast, the initial layout of seven holes at Anstruther Golf Club was created by Old Tom Morris in 1890. It was extended to its current nine-hole design after the Second World War and is a course that is kept in superb condition throughout the year.
The par-3 fifth is one of the toughest short holes around. You have to play from an elevated tee towards a green that is half obscured by a knowe. There’s a small fairway for those who can’t reach the green but even that is heavily guarded by steep gorse on the right and, on the left, by the Firth of Forth.
Situated within the beautiful Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, Callander Golf Club is one of the most scenic in the UK. Old Tom Morris advised on the layout of the course between 1889 and 1890, and it now provides a great round of golf in majestic surroundings.
Cullen Golf Club was founded in 1870 and Old Tom Morris laid out its first nine holes. It was extended to 18 holes by Charlie Neaves and currently measures at 4,623 yards with a par of 63. A traditional seaside links, its shortness in length is largely down to its close proximity to the water, as you play the outward nine close to the cliffs before playing back towards the clubhouse at beach level.
The par-3 seventh is the signature hole and you can see almost every green on the course from the tee. Good course management is essential if you’re going to walk away with a par.
With its layout approved by Old Tom Morris in 1893, Helensburgh Golf Club was originally a nine-hole layout that was extended to 18 holes by 1905. A family club from the beginning, it offers fantastic views across the Clyde Estuary towards Arran and Loch Lomond. Always guaranteed a warm and friendly welcome, visitors can also enjoy the great bar and restaurant facilities before and after their round.
King James VI Golf Club in Perthshire is unique in that it sits on an inland island. Perth Provost John Hulbert has described it in the past as ‘a jewel in Perth’s crown’.
The par-4 fourth is deemed the hardest hole on the course, measuring 474 yards from the medal tees, meaning it is only just short of being a par-5. With trees lining the left hand side of the fairway and rough on the right, you can easily run up a high score on this hole if you aren’t careful.
Designed by Old Tom Morris in 1904, Kirkcaldy Golf Club boasts a stunning parkland course that offers a number of challenges. With enviable views over the Firth of Forth and the surrounding Fife countryside, the course at Kirkcaldy creates an enjoyable experience for golfers of all levels as they play on the attractive tree-lined fairways and lush greens.
Morris Snr also designed the layout at Strathpeffer Spa Golf Club, which was founded in 1888. Peter Alliss recently described the course as a jewel in the Highlands of Scotland and it is arguably one of the most scenic golf courses in the north of Scotland.